WASHINGTON (AP) — Encouraging Russian peacemaking efforts, President Clinton said Monday ``we could have a bombing pause'' in Yugoslavia if Slobodan Milosevic accepts NATO's demands for the withdrawal of his troops, the return of refugees and the deployment of an international security force.
Clinton said ``there's plenty to talk about'' within the terms set by NATO, which require ``at least the beginning of withdrawal of Serb forces.''
After a news conference, Clinton conferred with Russian envoy Viktor Chernomyrdin who reported on his talks with Milosevic last Friday. Emerging from the Oval Office meeting, Chernomyrdin said: ``We got closer to a diplomatic solution.''
He did not elaborate, except to say that he and the president discussed ``the circumstances and the conditions'' under which NATO would pause its air assault on Yugoslavia.
``It's a very complicated issue we'll keep on working,'' the former Russian prime minister told reporters. ``I remain hopeful.''
Chernomyrdin reported on his talks with Milosevic last Friday. U.S. officials said before the meeting they had not heard anything from Milosevic that merits serious consideration. Chernomyrdin was meeting Monday night with Vice President Al Gore.
Clinton also was seeing the Rev. Jesse Jackson, home from a triumphant mission to Belgrade that won the release of three American servicemen held by Milosevic for more than a month. Jackson criticized NATO for continuing its attacks after the soldiers' release. ``I read NATO's response as the idolatry of might. I read it in some sense as the arrogance of power,'' he said on ABC's ``Good Morning America.''
Clinton spoke at a news conference with visiting Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi, whose country has contributed $200 million in assistance for Kosovo refugees. Obuchi said it was important for the international community to act in concert to find a political solution.
Administration leaders hastened to say Clinton was not softening the conditions for ending the airstrikes against Yugoslavia, which in 41 days have failed to break Milosevic's will. ``He did not say anything different,'' Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said. National Security Adviser Sandy Berger said, ``It's exactly what we've said all along.''
But the president's remarks seemed to highlight a longing for peace. He said he did not relish sending American forces into danger or ordering bombing attacks that kill innocent civilians. Yet Clinton said that Milosevic has made diplomatic commitments before, only to break them. ``You have to judge him by what he does,'' the president said.
Clinton said he was ``quite encouraged'' by the involvement of Russian President Boris Yeltsin and former Prime Minister Chernomyrdin in peacemaking diplomacy.
The president suggested NATO would be flexible on the makeup of an international security force so that it might include Russians and perhaps Ukrainians and others who have close ties to the Serbs. He said NATO ``has to be a big part of it.''
``Our conditions for ending the bombing are not complicated,'' Clinton said. ``The Kosovars must be able to go home with security and self-government. Serbian forces must leave Kosovo. An international security force must deploy with the power not just to monitor but to protect all the people of Kosovo, Albanians and Serbs alike.
``Our air campaign cannot stop,'' the president said, ``until Mr. Milosevic shows he is ready to end the nightmare for the people of Kosovo.'' Berger said Milosevic would not have to withdraw all his forces to escape the bombing, but ``we have to have a verifiable demonstration'' that his troops are leaving.
Clinton said the refugees would not return unless the Serb forces are withdrawn and until an international security force is in place.
``I am not trying to drag this out,'' Clinton said, ``but I am determined to pursue our policy ... to clearly and unambiguously reverse the policy of ethnic and religious cleansing.''
NEW YORK - The Dow Jones industrial average rolled past the 11,000 mark for the first time ever Monday, resuming its assault on the record books after taking a breather Friday. At the close of trading, the Dow was up 225.65 points at 11,014.69, using a late surge to top the milestone.
Blue-chip stocks got a boost from a National Association of Purchasing Management report showing that manufacturing activity continued to grow in April, but at a slower pace. The Nasdaq composite index retreated as investors once again sold technology issues. http://www.usatoday.com/hear.htm
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Fresh off his successful mission to free three U.S. prisoners of war in Yugoslavia, Jesse Jackson called on NATO leaders to begin negotiations with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to try to find a peaceful resolution to the crisis over Kosovo.
"We have the power to bomb. Do we have the strength to negotiate?" Jackson said Monday at an airport news conference, after arriving back in Washington from his trip to Belgrade.
"If bombing is a means, then let's leverage it for a political settlement," he said.
Jackson met later with President Bill Clinton, delivering a letter from Milosevic and urging the president to pick up the phone and talk directly to the Yugoslav leader.
While Jackson described Clinton's reaction as non-committal, "He did not say 'I will not do it.'"
There was no immediate response from the White House.
Jackson also called for the release of two Yugoslavs being held as prisoners of war and said NATO should consider a pause in the bombing campaign, which he said was "not succeeding."
"It is not succeeding in stopping expulsion (of ethnic Albanians). It is not succeeding in repatriation. It is not succeeding in getting a multi-national peacekeeping force (into Kosovo)," Jackson said.
Asked if he believes Milosevic is willing to make the concessions NATO leaders say will be necessary to stop the bombing campaign, Jackson said "we will only know if he's willing to do it in sufficient detail if we talk with him."
At least 19 people are reported to have died in the US after tornadoes tore through Oklahoma and Kansas on Monday night.
The exact death toll is not yet clear following a five-hour period in which several tornadoes formed.
Hundreds of people are said to be injured after the tornadoes, which began in southwest Oklahoma and stretched northeast, left a trail of destruction.
The most devasting storm was reported to have hit Midwest City, just southeast of Oklahoma City.
The twister, which blew up between Chickasha and Oklahoma City, was first reported at about 1750 local time (2450 GMT).
Reports stated that four people were killed in Midwest City, with more dead in Chickasha, about 50 miles south of Oklahoma City.
Others were reported to be dead in Wichita, Kansas, about 150 miles north.
The National Severe Storms Lab in Norman said the tornado which hit Midwest City may have been a mile (1.6km) wide at times.
National Weather Service forecaster David Andra said forecasters expected it to be categorised as at least F-4, the second strongest tornado classification.
Residents were reported to have taken cover in closets, basements and under mattresses, as cars littered roads.
Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating was said to have ordered the state-controlled National Guard and emergency crews out to comb through the debris and deal with natural gas fires.
Shara Findley, a spokeswoman for Hillcrest Health Center in Oklahoma City, said: "We are getting so many injures we are just tagging them and bringing them in. We're getting everything you can think of."